Come closer, and listen to what Ailm has to teach us about life:
I am here. Winter and summer. Always present, always awake.
I do not strive to be the best, or the most magnificent. I strive to be me. I strive to find my own place in the sun.
Look for me near the mountaintop, and you will notice that I am not big. Life circumstances here are not always easy. But that is not what I seek. I seek the sun. I seek light. I seek room to breathe and be what I am. And that is enough for me.
Come close, and you will probably smell my tears. You will smell my efforts at staying alive. Take my sweat, take my tears. They are my pearls. They are a sign that I am alive. That I am here, that I am connected. So let me share my efforts with you, may my striving bring you healing.
When there is snow, and it is cold and wet, I do not fear it. For I know that I can survive. Look for me in the harshest of circumstances, in the darkest hard of winter, and you will find the promise of the coming spring. You will find greenery where all else has given up or has taken shelter.
Let me be your shelter. Let me show you where I find my sun. Pick up one of my tears, and hold it to the light. Do you see how it shines? It is a little flame born of my inner fire. The fire that rushes through my veins. Take it, and let it be my promise of strength, my promise that even in the darkest days, there is light to be found somewhere.
Ailm is a tree that weeps. Go into a pine or fir tree forest, and it will not be long before you spot a tree whose trunk is littered with shiny yellow tears, made of crystallized tree resin. These are the tears of the tree, but also its hidden treasure, for they can be used both as a basis for incense and for coughing syrup, helping us to honor the sacred and to bring us healing.
The following ritual is intended to help you acknowledge your own pain and fears. It is not intended as a depressing ritual, but rather as a form of liberation, helping us to discover who we truly are, to realize that we are beautiful, and to get closer to an honest appreciation of ourselves.
As always, it is highly recommended to spend some time in the forest among the pine/fir trees before engaging in any of these rituals. The ritual itself probably works best when performed in the forest, but it isn’t essential. If you are doing this indoors, try to harvest a bit of resin (remember to thank the tree!!), or something that allows you to smell the tree’s scent.
Ritual of tears – finding your mountaintop
- Open ritual space in your own way.
- If you are doing this in the forest, pick a tree to work with (try to find one that has wept tears of resin). Greet it, and introduce yourself to it. Who are you? Do not overthink this. Just allow words to come naturally (or, if they don’t, simply spend some time feeling present in your body). If it feels appropriate, touch or hug the tree. (When doing this indoors, do the same, but instead of working with a real tree, sing its name, call in its presence, and visualize how you are standing before a strong and solid mature pine tree.)
- Sit down with your back leaning against the tree (real or in visualization). Close your eyes, relax, and enter into meditation.
- When you open your inner eyes, you find yourself sitting in the same location. Before you, a pathway leads you out of the forest, towards a mountaintop.
- As you walk the path, you pass by a number of encampments. Each of them represents a part of your life where you sometimes don’t feel entirely at home or at ease, or where you feel less able, or not entirely accepted by other people. Then walk away, allowing yourself to mourn about a kind of life that seemingly cannot be yours. Then remember that this does not represent who you are, but only speaks of who the world forces you to be. Leave it all behind, and walk on.
- As you walk onwards, the scenes change, and you now walk past a series of mirrors. In each of them, you see a part of yourself which you feel is an essential part of your identity. They are the bits that make you ‘you’. Take any of these away, and you wouldn’t be the same person anymore. (Note that these are not necessarily talents, or easy parts of your identity. Some will, but this can also include your sexual identity, or the fact that you secretly hate the taste of chocolate, or the fact that you are still mourning the death of your unborn child, or…) Taking some of these things away might make your life easier, but it would also diminish your unique, quirky you-ness.
- Embrace each version of you that you encounter, and tell them that you love them.
- Continue the walk. Soon, you arrive at the mountaintop. Sit down, bask in the sunlight, and enjoy the view. Then, allow yourself to weep. Let them be tears of joy about the wonderful, colorful person you have just discovered. Tears about all the times that you feel limited in expression yourself and showing your true colors, or speaking about your pain. Take as much time as you need, do not rush this.
- Then, after a while, start visualizing how your tears are flowing into the earth, nourishing and revitalizing it. Feel how you are growing roots, and these tears are what gives you strength. Then, look to into your hand, and see how some of your tears have crystallized into beautiful, shiny pearls: your gift to the world.
- Now, end the meditation and turn your attention back to the tree. Exchange tears. Give yours as an offering to it, and accept some of the trees tears in return. If you want, you can eat them and feel the tree’s healing powers spread through your body.
- Give the tree a final hug, then close the ritual.
You can do this before going on a holiday or retreat, or simply because you need a time-out. Of course, you cannot stay on the mountaintop together, but if you felt a call to the mountaintop, probably that means that you need to spend some time up there, taking advantage of the high vantage point to get some new perspective on life…
So, enjoy your stay, and breath some fresh air first. In a later blog post, we will suggest a ritual for reuniting with your everyday world.
[…] following ritual is a follow-up to the ritual from my previous post, finding strength within our tears. It can be useful when finishing a time of retreat, or before going back to work at the end of […]